Our guest blogger, Salva Rubio, is a Spanish author and screenwriter. After reading Save the Cat!, the first script he ever wrote, Saborafuego, was optioned, and he is currently hired to develop three more films. He has published essays, a comic book, and his first novel, Zingara: Finding Jim Morrison, was published on June 6. This is his story of how Blake Snyder and saving cats changed his life. Check his work and contact him at www.salvarubio.info — and welcome to our first ever bi-lingual post (see the pdf link below for the Spanish version)!
It was amazing, to say the least.
There was I, a young, inexperienced, aspiring screenwriter from Madrid (a place certainly FAR from anything L.A.-based), staring at my computer screen, and realizing he was coming to Spain.
He, of course, was Blake Snyder.
At that time, I had recently quit my bookselling job to devote myself full-time to writing, since I was determined to become a professional screenwriter. Not exactly a wise career move… since I only had written one script then! But I was full of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence. And I had a secret formula. Something that would allow me to become one of the pros! It was, of course, a book called Save the Cat!
A real how-to, written by a man called Blake Snyder, a working screenwriter who was boldly disclosing the secrets of his trade, sharing the key to the mysteries of scriptural knowledge and being unbelievably funny in the process. “It is easy,” those pages said, as if someone was stating a theme.
So, soon after reading the book I completed that first script, a culinary romantic comedy about a scientist woman who wants to change life and cooking in an old-fashioned, male-dominated restaurant.
I was so ready to hit the town with my script! And then it happened. Catalyst, I hear you say!
I just had logged into this site and my eyes couldn’t believe it: he was coming to Spain to teach a seminar? How come? Why? I mean… of all places, here? And even more: the seminar was to be held at a small, lost mountain city far enough from everywhere, called Vic. Too weird to be false!
Sure, at first I thought not to attend. I debated: I was unemployed and frankly penniless. It was crazy! But again… how could I not go? So armed with laptop, pen, and my STC! book, I broke into act two when I found myself in a distant mountain retreat, being almost the only Spanish citizen there, among other pupils from the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Ireland, etc. Upside-down world!
And there we met the man. Someone whispered B-Story? Mentor I hear? He was tall, blond, and his eyes were childlike and pure. He always had a broad smile and innocent laughter to share. And he was so full of trust in us! He thought every one of our stories was fixable. But I secretly believed mine did not need any-fixing-at-all, Mr. American screenwriter!
The first days of the seminar were, as you can guess, purely fun and games: I felt I had it! But… It… well… maybe… It could be done better, after all. I started a bit defensively, feeling oh-so-confident that my story needed only minor changes. But then, in a mid-seminar dinner where I expressed those terms (quite a public outing), I gathered notes and I knew that my story was not working as I thought — and if I did not fix it, it would be the end of my only chance for success at writing for a living! (talk about raised stakes!)
So rewriting started in a frenzy, as the final day was approaching (tick! tick!), just as enemies closing down! Doubts were surrounding me, insecurities abounded, time was running out, and the day before the end of the seminar… I did not have a clue on how to fix it! All was lost! Nothing seemed to work anymore! Worse off than when I started!
Then, you can bet it, I even had a real dark night of the soul when I found myself alone in the main hall trying to get my story right before the seminar ended. There, alone at night and I found another thing that did not have a name then (maybe it was already on Blake’s mind?): it was later called the “shard of glass,” and mine was overconfidence. How could I remove it? I didn’t know yet…
But Theme came back in the voice of Blake as a Break into 3 revelation… And yes: “It was easy,” but it also took focus, discipline, and a positive attitude for the magic to happen… And the will to change, just what my character and I were lacking.
The next day, the pupils gathered, we stormed the conference hall, found the high board surprise, dug deep down and I executed my new 40-scene pitch. And it was… Done! Congratulations! We had graduated from the STC! school!
After that, it took me some years to make that writing career. It took a lot of work, yes, but it was also easy because I leared how to make it fun, just what Blake taught us.
Now I am a working screenwriter. I had my culinary comedy optioned and it is being developed (I still own the English remake rights, ahem) and I am currently hired for developing THREE feature films!
Finally, this past Wednesday (June 6, 2012) Editorial Santillana (one of the most important publishers in Spanish language worldwide, house of Guillermo del Toro, Stephenie Meyer, and Kate Morton) published my first novel, written from Blake’s teachings and entitled: Zingara: Finding Jim Morrison. It tells the story of a physically challenged teenager on his solo road trip quest for finding the one an only Lizard King when he traveled to Spain incognito back in ’71. (Film adaptation rights, anyone?)
And to top it off… I have been invited to showcase my story here, on Blake’s site. Full circle! Closing image!
As Blake said, every story is about transformation. Being transformed is easy, life takes care of it for you. But embracing transformation takes work. Your work.
Read Blake’s books! Attend the seminars! Embrace transformation for you and your script!
Then the “easy” part starts.